Definition of spine in English:


Syllabification: spine
Pronunciation: /spīn


  • 1A series of vertebrae extending from the skull to the small of the back, enclosing the spinal cord and providing support for the thorax and abdomen; the backbone.
    More example sentences
    • Cervical nerve roots exit the cervical spine through the intervertebral foramina between the vertebrae.
    • Below the lumbar spine is the sacrum, which is actually five vertebrae fused into one bone.
    • It can result in spina bifida, where the bones of the spine do not completely enclose the spinal cord.
    backbone, spinal column, vertebral column; back
    technical rachis
  • 1.1A thing’s central feature or main source of strength: players who will form the spine of our team
    More example sentences
    • All but full forward Noel Costelloe in the central spine of the team were switched from their starting positions.
    • He chose to leave wingers Derek Townsley and Kevin Twaddle on the bench in an attempt to strengthen the spine of the side, and it proved a fine piece of judgment.
    • He has featured in the spine of any Aberdeen sides reaching out towards respectability in the past seven years.
    core, center, cornerstone, foundation, basis
  • 1.2Resolution or strength of character.
    More example sentences
    • And there are men and women of spine in the private media in Zimbabwe who are determined to continue doing their job despite all the risks.
    • Sabu's youthful charm and popularity encouraged Alex to build his future Empire films with a more careful regard for character and a stronger dramatic spine.
    • In another case, also featuring a desperate mother and a child who'd gone bad, Judge Hatchett lectured the mother to get some spine.
  • 1.3The part of a book’s jacket or cover that encloses the inner edges of the pages, facing outward when the book is on a shelf and typically bearing the title and the author’s name.
    More example sentences
    • Most packages contain two tapes within a box about the size of a book, arranged on bookstore shelves with the spine displaying the author and title.
    • Yet its opulent, mouldering furnishings appear intact, its books look down from the shelves, their spines unspoiled but their pages crumbled by termites.
    • She'd run her fingers gently over the book spines and read the titles he kept on the shelf above his writing desk.
  • 2 Zoology & Botany Any hard pointed defensive projection or structure, such as a prickle of a hedgehog, a spikelike projection on a sea urchin, a sharp ray in a fish’s fin, or a spike on the stem of a plant.
    More example sentences
    • The dorsal and pectoral fins have hard spines whereas the other rays are soft like the anal and caudal fins.
    • Bream have a needle sharp set of spines running through the dorsal fin similar to bass.
    • The fins have strong leading rays, which form a row of sharp spines along the dorsal fin.
    needle, quill, bristle, barb, spike, prickle; thorn
    technical spicule
  • 2.1 Geology A tall mass of viscous lava extruded from a volcano.
    More example sentences
    • From north and south, swamps or dense jungle rose toward a volcanic spine that was thought for decades to be too wild to support human life.
    • It's an area of tundra and lakes with the volcanic spine of the Alaskan peninsula visible in the distance.
    • East of Eagle Harbor, Brockway Mountain Drive climbs the Keweenaw's volcanic spine.



[in combination]: broken-spined paperbacks
More example sentences
  • These small fish are deep bodied with a long spined dorsal fin.
  • Nothing worth jumping for joy in the first three, but there in Philosophy were a couple of grey spined illegibly titled books.
  • The wasp then digs a burrow nearby using her strongly spined forelegs alternately.


late Middle English: shortening of Old French espine, or from Latin spina 'thorn, prickle, backbone'.

More definitions of spine

Definition of spine in:

Get more from Oxford Dictionaries

Subscribe to remove adverts and access premium resources

Word of the day kerf
Pronunciation: kəːf
a slit made by cutting with a saw